Saturday, July 31, 2004

Early Morning in the ER 

It's been a busy night here on my on-call shift. I've come to enjoy my on-call shifts because there usually seems plenty for me to do and I get to experience areas of the hospital that I don't normally get to see. Looking at my on-call log tonight you'd think I really had a slow night, but the trauma that came in just as I arrived has taken a significant part of my time (lots of family, lots of friends - all needed pastoral care). In the middle of that there was a death on 8 (oncology) and that's always real sad. Nothing to be done. Hope of the hopeless up there. I prayed with the wife of the patient and we hugged for a while. Cancer deaths are very different in their dynamics, from the chaplain's perspective, because they are long in coming and are expected. They are still sad but don't experience the shock of a traumatic expiration or arrest. This week has just been a hellish time - 5 deaths in all in the wards where I work, one or two more definitely pending, two traumas that I've handled, neither with a satisfactory ending. In fact, the one tonight is an ending worse than death I think. The words "subdural hematoma" are words I never want to hear in relation to me or my family. What happens to those patients the majority of the time is purgatory; it is not death, but it is certainly not life.

I wanted to write the other night about John Kerry's acceptance speech, but I was just too tired to do it and now everything that needs to be said has been said by others. I really liked how he said that we shouldn't declare God to be on "our" side, but rather should pray that we are on God's side (ref. Abraham Lincoln). Iraqi insurgents are just as much God's children as the Bush family, so let us not go around wielding God like a team captain in an intramural football game.

I think tomorrow, if it is sunny, I will go to the lake shore. And by tomorrow I mean in a few hours. That will be a nice decompressing time.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Letters and Drills 

I have finalized the letter I am sending to the Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Cultural Center with regard to what happened last Tuesday and will be dropping it in the mail tomorrow.  I told him at the end that I looked forward to his timely reply within two weeks, so we'll see what happens. 

It was a very busy day today at CPE.  The morning began right off with a Code Yellow (trauma case) that I handled - it was a motor vehicle accident, but, when all is said and done, not a particulary bad one.  The fella broke his femur, which sucks but isn't life threatening.  I got to watch them put it in traction and I have decided ortho-people are some sick puppies.  (None of that has to do with the fact that an orthopedic surgeon once traumatized me by deceitfully rebreaking a finger that had been set improperly.  Nope, none at all.)  They arrive with a traction bed, or, as the other Ryan put it, the "Bed O' Pain".  Yeah, that bed, and a drill kit.  I watched and grimaced as they skillfully and deftly drilled straight through his tibia, applied a hook to the bar placed in the hole and attached it all to the bed.  The nice young lady who did this then swore to me this lessened the pain.  I looked doubtful apparently, because she went on.  As it happens, the major source of both pain and complications from this sort of fracture stem from the broken ends of the femur rubbing together - this device pulls them apart, relieving the pain.  Just ignore the fact they DRILL THROUGH YOUR LEG to accomplish this manner of pain relief!  All in all, it was a pretty neat procedure to watch and one which I now feel competent performing.  So, should any of you ever break your femur, don't bother with the ER and all those bills.  Just give me a call and I'll plug in the Black & Decker. 

Immediately following that I had a death in one of my units that was quite sad and it took a lot out of me for the rest of the day.  The late afternoon was spent with Psychology Chaplain Andy Travis (a Wake grad) who talked with us about ministering to psychiatric patients focusing mainly on depressed patients and manipulative patients.  It was pretty interesting and informative, but I'm not charging up to the psych ward anytime soon.  Especially since I learned the results of the last time I went up there:  the Bible I gave to a patient who requested it used it to beat another patient about the head.

And finally, some good news:  the Code Yellow patient from the 16th that I mentioned is on the road to recovery, which means, above all, that he lived!  Praise God!  He'll have an enormous amount of physical therapy ahead of him, as well as many other kinds of therapy, and none of it will be fun or easy, but at least he'll be alive.  I know his family is happy.  Also the Code Blue patient from yesterday survived the emergency "heart explosion repair" surgery, which was unexpected.  Whether she'll get better or not is still up in the air, but this is one step in the right direction.


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Sunday, July 25, 2004

HTML Complications 

Back when I started blogging here with Blogger, the post creator was simple.  If you wanted anything fancy done in the HTML script, you had to do it yourself.  So, in designing my blog, I went about learning all the HTML stuff I needed to know and subsequently edited it into my blog's template so that the page you are reading now looks the way it looks.  That was way back in November and my own editing has more or less been absorbed, to my novice eyes, in the rest of the blog's template.

Recently, Blogger updated their system to make it more user friendly, which was a good service.  They made it easier to link to things, emphasize fonts, include titles and commenting systems, change colors, etc.  In other words, all the things I had edited myself, Blogger had now done for me.  This caused my editing and the new template and post editor programs to butt heads, which is the reason you may have noticed a lack of titles to my postings for a few days.  It did other things too, but none near as noticeable.  I got around this problem by jerry-rigging it - at best a temporary fix becuase ti was really annoying to have to do that each time.  Well, now I've spent some time during my on-call shift this morning (cause nothing is happening) learning about the new system, locating all my own changes, editing them to be more compatible with the system changes or deleting them where they were redundant.  Now, everything should be back to normal with just a few barely perceptible necessary changes.  I'll be leaving my HaloScan commenting system in place for now and ignoring Blogger's commenting system.  The Blogger system may let you post comments exceeding 1000 characters in length, but it forces you to sign in first, an extra step for commenting that may discourage a casual commentor from writing and depriving me of their valuable words.  That being done and said, I return to my day, or really, to my book until the pager buzzes me back to reality.


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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Busy, Busy, Busy
I have been extremely busy of late and so have not had much time to blog.  This past week was a rough week for me a work; incident after incident after incident caused a lot of emotions to catch up with me.  But, in brief:

I finished Dan Brown's Angels and Demons; unfortunately, I had the book completely figured out about 75 pages from the ending and I absolutely hate it when I do that.  As far as it goes, it was an ok book - neither great nor terrible.  Many of my friends would take issue with some of the science stuff in it and I take issue with some of the religious stuff in it, but in the end, it's just a piece of fiction.  Now, I am going to begin, at Jeff's recommendation, Andrei Makine's Requiem for a Lost Empire: A Novel.  After the Brown book, I need something a little more serious.

The letter writing process has begun with regard to the incident that happened on Tuesday of this week; I'll keep you up to date.

While walking down the street to Jeff's apartment on Friday night, I ran into Kate who had two theatre friends from Wake with her.  That was really wild and a lot of fun - we went and had an ice cream together.  The remainder of the night was spent carousing with Jeff, his friends from out of town, and Myra.

Today I slept late and then went to the Sox/Tigers game with Jeff's crowd.  That was a blast!  Unfortunately for them (being Detroit-ians) the Sox pulled out a bottom of the 9th solo HR victory - 6-5. 

Tomorrow I am on call during the day and so no I am going to bed!


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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

3 Things of Note
Yesterday afternoon, we had another guy come into the ER cause he fell on his head.  This is beginning to become a sad epidemic.  The fella's intracranial pressure was so high that they had to get a monitor in there right away, called and ICP monitor, so they could keep track of it and know what meds to give him.  With his wife not there, no one else to call, and nothing pressing to do, I decided to stick around and watch this surgical procedure.  The neurosurgeon was there because he needed to do it rather than the nurse, so I just stepped out of the way and watched.  First, he cleaned the guy's head up and put this sterile agent on it.  After draping the surgical field, he got out a scalpel and made a small incision in the guy's head, which began to bleed bright red blood.  I was amazed at how easy the scalpel slid right in.  No pressure necessary there.  He then got another scalpel looking object (this one long and pointy and not so much like a knife as a spear)  and stuck it in the same hole, and twisted!  There was a funny scraping sound.  Thinking that was it, I was impressed at how easy it was to stick this monitor in.  But, oh no, that wasn't the half of it.  He then picks up a drill.  Not an electrical drill or anything with a battery, but one that comes complete with a hand crank!  Inserting the bit into the head, he began to crank, which made an unpleasant sound.  Satisfied the hole (now bleeding more) was sufficient, he removed the drill and I was ok with that until a chunk of skull came out.  Gave me the willies.   He then promptly stuck in the monitoring device and sutured up the excess incision space.  Took all of ten minutes.  The drill is rather precisely measured, I found out, to make sure it goes just the right distance.  All in all, it was a good experience, and I was pleased the surgeon allowed me to watch and ask questions.  This hospital is pretty cool.

Number two thing of note is that today was all Advocate CPE day - a fun day off work, spent socializing together down in Millenium Park.  They had a new exhibit there, a rather cool one, of 100 portraits of different families from around the globe.  This German guy, Uwe Ommer,  spent four years traveling around the world photogaphing families and now, 100 out of 1000 are on display in the Park.   It was a very cool exhibit.  Each portrait had a little blurb about the family underneath it to give you some context, which I thought was fun.  I think it's a cool idea and I really envy this guy for getting to go to all these cool places.

Finally, the crowning piece of the day.  I can now say I've had a Constitutional right infringed upon.  After lunch, which we had in the cultural center enjoying some live jazz, and after all but three people had cleared out of the cafe, the 50 or so folks there with us prepared for our closing worship service.  About three quarters of the way through the service, a woman who worked there approached, somewhat hysterical and says in a loud voice that we had to stop immediately and that we had to either sit down or leave.  Some of our leaders went aside with her and talked it out, which only made her more hysterical apparently.  Well, most people filed out, but this sort of thing gets my blood boiling.  So I stuck around for a minute with about six other people.  I approached the woman and asked why we had to leave and, I shit you not, she said to me, "This is a public space and you cannot do that here," [emphasis all her's].    So, I pushed her (verbally) a bit, and asked what "that" was.  She said, "Gathering like that, here."  I continued, along with some colleagues, and said, "Are you telling us we cannot pray in a public space?"  She said, "Yes."  So, perhaps thinking that the building really was not public space I tried to inquire if it was and she insisted that it was public space.  It was then that we, one of us being an attorney, introduced the U.S. Constitution into the discussion.  Several security guards had now approached and looked somewhat silly trying to be menacing with their sports jackets and sewed on faux-badges.  (After having Israeli soldiers point machine guns at me and demand passports, these guys were way low on the intimidation meter.)  This woman, who was clearly trying hard not to lose it, told us to stay right there and that she would be back.  Our leader insisted we were allowed to be there because we had attained prior permission; the woman fled, presumably to get her boss, or maybe the police, who knew.  She comes back with her boss (to bad too, cause I was all ready to have this discussion with a cop) who was much kinder and explained that we had to arrange to use the space for public gatherings beforehand.  We said we had.  He wanted to know with whom.  We didn't know the person's name, because our leaders had gotten fed up/tired of/frightened by the encounter and went outside, I guess cause they didn't want to cause a disturbance.  But I was totally ready to cause this particular disturbance.  Unfortunately, not knowing the name of the person who had made the arrangements seriously hurt our case, becuase this new guy was sort of on our side and needed to know who he needed to hold accountable.  So, we reiterated that it was our Constitutional right to both gather there, in a public space, and to pray - gosh darn it, right out loud if we wanted to.  He gave us his card and thanked us for coming, apologizing for the disturbance and encouraging us to write to him with our concerns.  I said, "Ok.  Expect to be hearing from me," and the same was uttered out of several mouths, the attorney's not being the least of these.  We then said we were going to finish our prayer service, right there, and then we would disperse.  I gave to him a copy of our prayer service so he could get a flavor for what our prayer was about and reflect on it in light of his employee's behavior - interfaith prayers for the whole human family, celebrating our diversity, differences, similarities, and communion with all of God's creation.  I do intend on writing a letter of inquiry to him to find out what this was all about.  I am going to give him a list of the things we did, an account of what this lady told/yelled at us, and a query as to what we should have done if we were, in fact, in any breach of the rules.  Public spaces, as far as I know, can be used for gatherings of any kind, so long as they are peaceful.  If permits are required, such needs to be posted or in writing somewhere where it can be seen and read by the public.  Such gatherings can be used for prayer purposes, as follows from the same Amendment, 1.  Depending on the reply I receive, should I receive one, I will determine the next best course of action.  If the reply is unfavorable, a letter to the editor of the Tribune is definitely in order, followed by moving right on up the chain of command all the way to the Mayor's office if need be.  We'll see, but right now, I am still just flabbergasted at the entire experience.  Why do wild things always happen to me??


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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Rest in Peace, Chris Keith, servant of God, wife, mother, loving friend, minister to youth.  Your memory will live on and your service for our Lord will never be forgotten.  May flights of angels sing you to your rest and may you dwell in the house of God this day and evermore. 
Pray for the Keith family.

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Last night's on-call pages disappeared after 9:30pm.  But, not knowing that such would be the case, I went to the student room with the intention of "resting my eyes" for a short bit until the pager went off again.  Periodically, I would wake up, check the clock, and fall back asleep on the day bed in the student room; the pager remained silent.  This process continued until 12:15am, when I got up and walked down to the mailroom to leave a note that I needed to get to another chaplain and pass off the pager to Tat, the next chaplain on call.  Because of those several hours of rest, I woke up this morning at about 9am, fully rested and feeling good.  The morning was spent reading over a pot of coffee, followed by a vido game.  The afternoon was taken up by an episode of Six Feet Under, the HBO series I really enjoy whose second season has recently been released on DVD.  (I'm quite excited by this, by the way; it's a great show.)  Then, I shot some Nazi's and read some more.  Jeff and I went out to supper at Joy Yee's Noodles on Davis Street - very good, very much a lot of food (hooray leftovers!).  Myra and her friend Sarah decided to go for a nap downtown and could not join us for dinner.  But, this was all the well because after supper Jeff and I went for a few rounds in the local batting cages (embarassing ourselves in the baseball cage before returning to the softball cage) and then a full round of putt-putt.  I took along Mason's groomsman present to me to add a bit of flavor to the evening and take the chill off.  Both Jeff and I enjoyed that quite a bit, and it may have proved to be beneficial to our golf game.  It felt good t be lazy and silly today.  I've been entirely too serious of late and needed a bit of tomfoolery to take the edge off things.  Now, I am going to shower and hit the sack, rejoicing in the day and anticipating the next.

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Friday, July 16, 2004

It's a busy night for my on-call, but only one code yellow so far. I have made several visits to some patients I know and spent a lot of the time with the family of the code yellow patient, who has a very small chance of survival. It's kinda draining on me, so I don't think I'll write much, but I did want to write something.


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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A.L. Does it Again

Much to my family's chagrin and Jeff's delight, the American League has once again won the All-Star game, securing home field advantage for the World Series. The game was pretty exciting from the get-go, with the A.L. starting lineup dominating Clemens. Oh well, better luck next year.

Yesterday in CPE nothing much went on with which I was directly involved. I made my rounds and visited my patients until noon, when my family came to meet me for lunch. That was fun! After lunch I brought them down to the ER to show them what it was like. We arrived just after a serious trauma was over and the unit was calming down. John explained to us what happened, but it was not until this morning that I discovered the full extent of the trauma. A man was standing in line at a Subway restaurant when an elderly driver confused brake pedal for gas, accelerating at high speed into the restaurant. The man in line was struck and propelled into the sneeze guard over the sandwich fixings, partially decapitating him. He died in the ER. The entire event was extremely traumatic for all involved. It made the news even. Docs and nurses are still talking about it today. Paramedics and firefighters on the scene were pretty upset by it. I just fielded a phone call of a family who was in the restaurant when it happened (unhurt, praise God) who wanted some information about counseling services. I can imagine quite a few folks might need that. Just goes to show us once again that anything can happen at any time. Sobering thoughts.

Today, I'm in the ER and then will go upstairs to my ICU units before lunch. After lunch I will work on student stuff, writing up my mid-unit evaluation, which I will present tomorrow. We listened to two of them yesterday and I'm not sure I care for some of the format, but that's pretty much just par for the course.

Beal watched "Big Fish", I read, and I commend him and McGinley on an excellent movie choice! I loved that movie and I think there's enough in it to keep us pondering for quite a few viewings.

Later on tonight Myra and I are joining my family for dinner in the city at a really cool restaurant - the Grand Lux Cafe. It should be good times! For now though, it is back to work.


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Monday, July 12, 2004

Holy Ground

The wedding was wonderful! It was quite the fantastic event and brought this particular year-long run of weddings to a head. The bachelor party was loads of fun, the rehearsal and the dinner were great, the wedding was gorgeous and sacred, and the reception was, as Mark said, "storybook". In this particular wedding (and I'm not sure why this happened, but it did), the groomsmen and the bridesmaids got along really well. This is not to say at the other weddings we hated each other, but at this one we really seemed to gel. It made the whole event just a lot of fun and may have even gotten Bob a date. Alarming, I know. At the rehearsal dinner, those of us who felt moved were allowed to give a speech and a toast. Of course, I was so moved, because every event is made better if I speak. I was rather proud of myself actually that I made it all the way through my toast without shedding a tear; this was a feat not many of the other toast-givers accomplished, which, in turn caused the rest of us to cry a little. The actual wedding was co-presided over (a tradition I'm beginning to enjoy) by both the bride's pastor (Lutheran) and the Groom's uncle, who is the Right Reverend Clay Matthews, Executive Director of the Presiding Bishop's Office of Pastoral Development. It included a full Liturgy of Word and Sacrament, in addition to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony - the way I think weddings should be done. The bride's pastor, the Rev. Elizabeth Krentz-Wee of St. Michael's Lutheran Church, delivered the sermon and celebrated Holy Communion with the Bishop. All in all, it was a gorgeous ceremony. The reception was, as noted, spectacular, and the dancing just didn't quit! We had so much fun! I wish Mason and Lucia all the best in their future together, even if they did cause a wave of nausea by deciding to have their honeymoon in St. Lucia! Seriously though, all the blessings I can give them, I do.

On the way home I must have set some sort of record. I sat next to the same person I sat next to on the way over. That's just weird. We had a nice chuckle about it. I also (finally) finished Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which was quite excellent. I highly recommend it to all; just don't be daunted by the size. It is a wonderful tale(s) with a lot of twists and turns. But really, the main reason you should read this book is just simply for the writing, which is superb! Now I am taking a break from the serious for a short time and reading this other book real fast, just so I know what other people are talking about. It is an enjoyable read though in my opinion - fast paced, with lots of action. It's just not a book you can really take seriously, though perhaps a little more seriously than his more recent blockbuster. But that is what I need right now, a book not to be taken seriously.

Now, my whole family is here for a brief visit until Thursday. HOORAY! It is great to see them and fun spending time with them, even though I have to work during the day. Tomorrow we are going to eat at the Flat Top Grill (never gone there before) and then return to my apt. for the All-Star Game. Go National League!!!

Speaking of work, it was pretty busy this afternoon, but in a good way. I got to accomplish one of my important learning sub-goals. (The primary learning goal I had for CPE was to become more comfortable with death as a part of life.) Well, I got called to one of my units this afternoon because they were making a patient palliative care, which means removing life support and helping the patient to be more comfortable until they die. The doctors knew this patient was so reliant on medication that they would die as soon as it was removed, but they kept it on until the next of kin could arrive from out of state. Well, said next of kin called and said they couldn't make it until Wednesday, but to go ahead with the palliative care proceedings. So, I walked into the room and talked to the RN for a few minutes, then talked to the patient for a few minutes, who was completely unconscious. I then began to pray the litany at time of death as the RN removed each medication tube and life support measure, peridocally glancing up to watch the vital statistics drop slowly but steadily. Not five seconds after I said the final "Amen" did the patient breathe their last. Just like that, they were gone. No drama. No excitement. They just stopped breathing and they were with Jesus. It was a sacred moment and I got to be a part of it. Later, as I spoke to John (my clinical supervisor) he said I walked on holy ground and asked me how I felt about it. I responded that, while sad, it felt good. I did a good thing today. Go with God now.


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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Off Again

I leave in a few minutes to the final wedding I plan on going to this year, completing the cycle I began about this time last year. Congratulations to Mason and Lucia - may your lives be filled with all joy and the power of hope through believing in our Lord Jesus Christ. When the tough times come, may He lift you up and, when need be, carry you. When the joyous times comes, may you not hesitate to give Him thanks. See you in a few, brother...


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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Find Yourself a Seminarian

A while ago I remarked that one of Myra's friends had located an article in Jane magazine which stated that seminarians are among the top candidates for dating partners if you're looking to spice up your dating life (should you have one). Well, yesterday, she gave me a copy of the article and it's hysterical. It comes from the June/July 2004 volume, pp. 143-145. While it certainly all is not true of me, and a little crass in places, it's a pretty funny article nonetheless. A woman by the name of Katy McColl is the presiding authority. The text pertaining to seminarians is as follows:

"Find Yourself a Seminarian
So convince me Katy: Religious training is all about questioning everything, so seminary students are at a most open-minded, even experimental, place. Like Prince, just before he dove headlong into being a Jehovah's Witness. They're also compassionate and tend to be fond of automated e-mail signatures that include inspiritational musings.
What's in it for me? 'What I found different was that he was really into getting to know me spiritually, which was kind of exciting but weird,' says Ann, 25, who was just dumped by a guy in a seminary because 'he was concerned that our physical relationship was preceding our emotional relationship.'
But, I'll be damned if that's not the opposite of Jenny's experience: 'This one seminarian, who all my friends thought was so boring, was deciding whether or not to be a Catholic priest...kinkiest guy I ever met,' the 27-year-old says. 'He wanted to gag me with his blue plaid terry-cloth bathrobe tie during sex. He baked his own Communion bread, by the way, and it was really, really good.'
Win points by using the word "exegesis". It means to interpret in a biblical sense. As for the action, 'Just be prepared to be surprised,' says my friend Marie, who has a love/hate relationship with seminarians ever since the one she was dating hit on her former best friend. 'My ex said that when you have this stigma on you, that you don't do that, then you do that and you do it really well.'
Where to find one: 'In a bar, at an antiwar protest, presiding over a gay marriage, sitting in the back row of The Passion with their notebook, scribbling about how biblically inaccurate it is,' suggests Marie.
The end: When I asked Jenny how long she went out with her 'horny priest', she says, 'I didn't. I screwed around with him for a couple of months and then he stopped calling.' Expect to be given up for Lent if the chemistry gets stale or if you refuse to stop with the 'What would Jesus do?' jokes."

There ya have it folks. Straight from Jane's mouth, so take it for what you will. Other categories of interesting types of guys to date include organic farmers, the homeless, transgendered persons, an Amish, and a young politician.


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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Blessed Weekend

The weekend is finally here, as I worked yesterday. It was my first on-call shift where I was the only chaplain in the hospital. It was a lot of fun, very exciting, and quite tiring! The morning especially was very busy. I spent a lot of time with one family, whose father had had a serious accident at work and broke his skull. Another family lost their Mom to a heart attack, and a couple of people called in with funeral home information that allowed me to complete several pieces of unfinished paperwork. I talked to (another) suicide attempt patient who had some odd ideas about God, (who, incidentally, is Catholic) and sat with another family as thier mother lay dying of a host of diseases. Somewhere in there I snuck a bite to eat and caught a few minutes of sleep. All in all, it was a good day, and I am thankful that my first on-call shift is over. That means, since I survived, I can do it. Today is definitely a day of rest. I intend on sitting on my couch for the majority of the afternoon and watching The Two Towers with Myra. Then, weather permitting, we may go watch fireworks later tonight somewhere. Next week is going to be an exceptionally short week for me. We have Monday off for the national holiday, I work Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I have Thursday and Friday off to go to Mason and Lucia's wedding, where I am a groomsman. I can't wait. It will be a much needed opportunity to celebrate life and happiness rather than remembering lives in sadness. Now, though, it is definitely time for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!


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Thursday, July 01, 2004


I have to write about this now, while it is still so raw, so pardon any incoherencies. Today in CPE I was broken. I suppose there comes a time in our lives when we must all reach that point. Today was it for me. I'm in a "time-out" mode right now and am off in the student room. As I write this, I weep and I hurt. Ok, here's the story:

Over lunch, 2 code yellows come in, one right after the other. My clinical supervisor goes downstairs for the first one, and right as I'm finishing my lunch, the second comes in, so I go down, as the other Ryan was at a care conference. When I get to the ER, my clinical supervisor tells me that the second trauma is a suicide attempt: took a razor to the arm. The patient is wheeled in on the stretcher and I button up my coat and don some gloves. The docs and nurses are doing their thing and I stay out of the way. A social worker informs me that the parents are already in the waiting room and the paramedic, who knows the patient, says this is not the first time. I decide that while the docs and nurses are doing their medical stuff, I will go and sit with the parents. Instead of what I was expecting, I find two calm, rational, almost unemotional people. After chatting with them for a little while I learn a little bit about the medical/psychiatric history of this patient. I also learn that the father is so "fed up" that he doesn't care anymore. After that conversation, I go back to the ER room, get some new gloves, and go in to talk to the patient. The docs are busy sewing up the arm; it was a pretty good cut, though not immediately life-threatening. I move around to talk to the patient, who thanks me for coming because she has felt like God doesn't care about her anymore and that she hasn't been to church in a while and feels poorly about that.

We start getting into some pretty heavy conversation, some pretty serious stuff, both theological and psycological. I don't want to write about all that here, because of all kinds of confidentiality stuff, but suffice it to say it was pretty heavy. And in the back of my mind I keep seeing her father looking right into my eyes and telling me he doesn't care anymore. There was so much pain there. So much pain. I said to her, "Tell me about the pain." And she did. I felt assaulted by her pain and I entered into it with her, somehow, I don't know how, but all of a sudden I felt it and it was too much. Sweat beaded on my forehead and I felt really hot. I said, "I don't feel very good." Blackness. The next thing I hear is, "Chaplain down!" Now, awake and over my confusion, I laugh becuase the chaplain is not suppossed to do this! Good Lord! The poor patient is wondering if I am ok and asks me if I passed out because of what she said. I say up to her from the floor, "I'm ok. I just got really hot. It was nothing you did." I continue my ministry to her for a few seconds like that from the floor telling her I am ok and that it is not her fault before they put me in a wheelchair and roll me out. Outside, with my clinical supervisor, was when the gravity and reality of the situation really hit me and I was overwhelmed again. Tears flowed. I was broken.

This is gonna take some working through and I imagine I'm going to (whether I want to or not) have to talk about it. How to reconcile all that pain with the "I don't care" attitude? Yeah, it's frustrating, and yes it sucks, and yes it hurts, and yes it's not what anyone wants, but dammit it's what you were given sir! This is your daughter! Oh geez...I guess that's not a very chaplainy thing to say. Feeling? You want a feeling? I feel bad.


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